michael hogan

(July 14,1943 / Newport, Rhode Island)

How A Planet Stays in Orbit


All morning the cottonwood
has been speaking. It began
when the house was barely awake,
not semaphore but a voice clearly distinguishable
which sang from all the nerve endings
which tumbled down the taproots,
which made the earth tremble
deep inside itself.

On a clear day you can see
forty miles to the Santa Ritas.
The tourists are amazed.
But where they come from,
Venus, millions of miles away,
clear as a barrel cactus,
is pointing south.

Here is the cottonwood
banal as a course in Early American Lit
until one day when you could have been
any place else but were not
some poem sings from everywhere inside you.
Then the earth trembles.
It spins far out, twinkling toward Venus
like a northern star

And this is what the cottonwood is saying.
A difficult line if we are
not quiet enough, amazed enough.
It sings:
This Earth is sweet as cherry brandy.
It rubs the warm Earth's belly.
And the planet spins in ecstasy,
it rushes out into space again and again
and then returns
hungry for our quiet songs.

Submitted: Saturday, February 23, 2013

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